Live Webcast Series

40 Years of the U.S. Department of Education: Examining Its Past, Present, and Future

April 29, 2020 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM EDT April 30, 2020 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM EDT May 1, 2020 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM EDT

Live Online

On May 4, 1980, the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) opened its doors. It was a highly contentious creation—the bill establishing it barely passed the House, and President Reagan vowed to kill it—but the DOE remains. Of course, survival does not necessarily mean success. In this special three‐​episode webinar marking the DOE’s 40th birthday, we’ll examine its past, present, and future. Why was the DOE, for which there is no clear constitutional warrant, established? What has it accomplished—or maybe damaged—in its four decades? What should be done with it moving forward, including, perhaps, bringing it to an end? We will discuss all of this and more as the DOE heads toward its fifth decade.

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Wednesday, April 29, 2020

1:00-2:00PM

40 Years of the U.S. Department of Education: Why Was It Created?


Aside from a short‐​lived data collection entity, before 1980 there was no Department of Education. Why did it come into existence then? What were the public policy reasons? What were the political reasons? What were the primary drivers behind the department’s creation?

Christopher Cross, Chairman, FourPoint Education Partners, and author of Political Education: National Policy Comes of Age
Ron Kimberling, Research Fellow, Independent Institute, and Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education in the Reagan administration
Kevin Kosar, Vice President, Research Partnerships, R Street, and author of Failing Grades: The Federal Politics of Education Standards
Moderated by Neal McCluskey, Director, Center for Educational Freedom, Cato Institute


Thursday, April 30, 2020

1:00-2:00PM

40 Years of the U.S. Department of Education: What Has It Accomplished?


Since the birth of the DOE, has education gotten better or worse? If either, does it deserve credit or blame? Has its effect been different in higher education than K–12? After 40 years, has the DOE been a success or a failure?

Neal McCluskey, Director, Center for Educational Freedom, Cato Institute
Vicki Alger, Research Fellow, Independent Institute, and author of Failure: The Federal Miseducation of America’s Children
Cynthia Brown, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress, and first Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Education


Friday, May 1, 2020

1:00-2:00PM

40 Years of the U.S. Department of Education: What Should Its Future Hold?

Given its mission, and what it has—or has not—accomplished, what should be done with the Department of Education? Should it be maintained as is? Should it be reformed or perhaps even abolished?

Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT), U.S. House of Representatives and former high school teacher
Jonathan Butcher, Senior Policy Analyst, Center for Education Policy, Institute for Family, Community, and Opportunity, Heritage Foundation, and coeditor of The Not‐​So‐​Great Society
Maria Ferguson, Executive Director, Center on Education Policy, and former Director of Communication and Outreach Services for the Department of Education’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education
Moderated by Neal McCluskey, Director, Center for Educational Freedom, Cato Institute

Event Resources